Naples, Bread, Frank Gehry, Outrage, Alain Badiou

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The Monster Beneath

Helen Gordon | 1843 | 11th December 2017

Vesuvius looms over Naples to the East. But another volcano, Campi Flegrei, bubbles beneath the city itself, and shows signs of preparing to erupt. “The red zone, home to around 700,000 people, is the area most likely to be destroyed when Campi Flegrei erupts”. Evacuation plans assume that a 72-hour warning will be possible before any major eruption. But that is pure guesswork; and even then, it will probably not be enough. “In an emergency, people don’t know what they need to do” (3,800 words)

Let Them Eat Bread

Paul Levy | TLS | 19th December 2017

Discussion of recent books about bread — including ‘Modernist Bread’ by Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya, 2,642 pages in six volumes. “Nearly all the breads we regard as traditional products are of recent origin. The ciabatta was invented in 1982 by an enterprising Veneto baker who recognized his patrons’ taste for the French baguette. Panettone in anything like its current form is also a twentieth-century concoction. Croissants were not made until 1837” (2,700 words)

Reimagining Prison With Frank Gehry

Bill Keller | Marshall Project | 21st December 2017

Report from the final session of Frank Gehry’s workshop on prison architecture at Yale. Students present designs for a “humane” prison. “Virtually every student incorporated classrooms, open space and fresh air, spaces for family visits and therapy. It fell to a formerly incarcerated juror, Dwayne Betts, to point out gently that neighbors might have security concerns about a prison where walls were decorative features and staying on site was more or less optional” (1,030 words)

The Age Of Outrage

Jonathan Haidt | City Journal | 19th December 2017

On the fine-tuned fragility of liberalism. “In the last two centuries, a lot of us have lived in large, multi-ethnic secular liberal democracies. So clearly that is possible. But how much margin of error do we have in such societies? Here is the fine-tuned liberal democracy hypothesis: As tribal primates, human beings are unsuited for life in large, diverse secular democracies, unless you get certain settings finely adjusted to make possible the development of stable political life” (4,800 words)

The Communist Hypothesis

Alain Badiou & Laurent Joffrin | Verso | 20th December 2017

Suspend your disbelief. Philosopher Alain Badiou defends the theory and practice of communism, in conversation with Laurent Joffrin, editor of ‘Libération’. Badiou argues that the Cultural Revolution was misrepresented by its enemies, and that the collapse of the Soviet Union proved nothing: “Abandoning a hypothesis because the very first attempts to confirm it were inconclusive is hardly a rational method. Lucky that physicists and artists do not follow you in this type of argument!” (3,900 words)

Video of the day Living Rooms

What to expect:

Projection video mapping made for “Fête des Lumières de Lyon” (1’34”)

Thought for the day

Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil, but as necessity
Simone Weil

Podcast of the day Gordon S. Wood | Lapham’s Quarterly

Lewis Lapham talks to Gordon Wood about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, rivals for 50 years and, at last, friends

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